Across Southern Africa, if not Africa at large, we are now seeing a trend, where liberation movements or parties are slowly loosing the morale and momentum they have enjoyed for decades after independence of their respective countries.
It is not a secret they have always dominated the political sphere, so it has come as a suprise for many to witness this. It is also safe to say the smaller parties are slowly stepping up to level the playing field.
Indeed, we cannot deny they have earned their stripes through perseverance and resilience, and have proven “they” equally have the ability to provide governance.
This is evident in the recently concluded provincial and local municipality elections in the neighbouring South Africa.
As I have said earlier, for many and the ANC in particular, it has come as a suprise that it has massively lost the majority vote privilege it has enjoyed since the dawn of independence in 1994.
It has lost most of its strongholds in major economic provinces such as KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng. The party only managed to garner 46% of the total national vote – dropping from its 54% in 2016.
What happened to the oldest political party in Africa, viewed by many as the “holy” ANC?
Is it the recent Zuma imprisonment unrests? Is it Magashule’s suspension? Is it the state capture saga, or is it the overall factionalism that have manifested itself within the party?
Is it that the chickens are just finally coming home to roost at Luthuli House?
There are many questions on people’s minds, but whatever it is, I am sure Oliver Tambo, Harry Gwala and Joe Slovo are turning in their graves now. May they rest in peace!
Despite that, one can say all of these events have a domino effect and something to do with it, as the memories are still fresh and vivid in people’s minds.
Though these events have played a role in the voters’ mindset, one can also not ignore the long and ongoing day-to-day struggles that people have suffered and continue to suffer in urban and rural areas.
It is really a shame, but the sad truth is that people still live with the reality of not having basic services such as running water and electricity.
It even became evident a day after the election when the usual blackouts caused by ESKOM’s load shedding power cuts resumed.
When one studies the recent voting demographics in South Africa, it is not just the ANC’s majority loss that captivates the eye, but also the voter turn out, whereby only 26% of the registered voters made it to the polls, and 74% opted not to vote.
This clearly shows that most of the people just opted to stay away from the polls, as there is a strong feeling they have been lied to for too long now – and they believe no party has the will and capability to change their current situation, and making sure their hopes and aspirations are met.
When one registered young voter was asked why she didn’t vote, she said: “There is no difference or choice when you are presented to choose from three devils, the only difference is one is in a yellow shirt, while the other is in a blue or red shirt, so I can’t vote for any devil”.
The voters felt its like jumping from a boiling pot – straight into the fire.
ANC is now like a “rejected calf”, where it has been pushed from the right, left and center by the majority of the parties that have publicly made it known they wouldn’t want to enter into any form of coalition with the “people’s ejected party”, as it would compromise the people’s will.
Some of these parties are the IFP, DA and the newly-established Action SA that has enjoyed and received a good reception in these elections, considering the fact that this was its first contestation in the local authority elections.
To the liberation movements across Southern Africa, I think its high time they start doing thorough, meaningful, genuine and truthful introspections of their organisations!
I say this because the so-called “Thank you rally”, held by the ANC after the elections, was simply a facade to hide the wounds it has, as it seemed to be only addressing surface issues, rather than focusing on the core of the problem.
I must say I applaud them for admitting that things went horribly wrong and it has accepted defeat. I strongly feel the main issues were ignored, starting from the issue of factionalism, party in-fights, to the question of whether they are really still living up to the mandate, values and principles set up by their forefathers in 1912.
Moving on, allow me to say that, as times change, so are the voting demographics changing too because of a number of issues.
There are two issues, among many others, that stand out for me.
Firstly, we are seeing more and more youth entering politics, where they bring with them deeper civic education.
The introduction of an IT-based society has helped in ensuring people receive this simplified but deep civic education and are now having a proper understanding of what citizenship is all about.
Most people now refuse to be just taken for a ride, as they would also want to own a ride.
Secondly, service delivery remains the main issue and a thorn in the flesh – and it has influenced the way in which people approach voting and politics today.
The lack of services has cultavated mistrust and eroded hope in the masses, especially at the local authority level, as this is where the bread and butter issues that directly affect ordinary citizens should be dealt with.
Therefore, ignoring the plight of the people at the grass roots is literally shooting oneself in the foot.
People can no longer come to terms with the fact that, many decades after independence, things have even turned to be worse, compared to the previous colonial regimes.
In conclusion, this should also serve as a lesson to the opposition parties to sit down, dissect and take notes on the mistakes made by the long-time ruling parties. It is easy to get into power, but is hard to maintain and keep it.